A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for November, 2012

The Evolution of Markets and Shopping Local

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How many times have you heard somebody tell you to shop local? It’s a popular phrase among small business owners, college students, and hipsters. In fact the whole shop local movement (if you can call it a movement) is so popular Obama even takes a moment to exploit it for publicity:

He’s done it again! Indie bookstore surprise supporter President Obama visited a local bookstore on Small Business Saturday, the second time he’s touted the shopping local day (and bookstores) in as many years.

This year Obama took his daughters Sasha and Malia to One More Page Books in Arlington, Va., near Washington. The trio spent about 20 minutes in the store browsing through books and quietly conversing with other shoppers.

Too bad One More Page Books didn’t get one of those multimillion dollar contracts the government is so quick to toss to donors who make large campaign contributions, but I digress.

Let’s consider local bookstores for a moment. I love bookstores (and libraries, although fewer and fewer libraries actually have books in them so they are falling more and more out of favor with me) and books but even I have to admit that shopping at local bookstores, unless they’re specialty stores, isn’t an ideal experience. What is more convenient between driving to a bookstore to pickup a title or tapping a few buttons on your e-reader screen and having the book appear almost instantly on the device? For me it’s the latter by a wide margin.

Apparently I’m not along in thinking this because e-books are outselling physical books on Amazon. This brings up an economic reality being denied by those in the shop local movement; markets evolve. Just as the lightbulb ousted the lantern, automobiles ousted the horse and buggy, and computers ousted the typewriter e-books are ousting physical books. Nobody should be surprised by this as e-books are far more convenient than their physical brethren. I can have an e-book downloaded almost instantly to my e-reader, view my e-books on any number of electronic devices, carry every e-book I own with me at all times, and avoid setting aside space for more books. E-books are an evolution that bypasses many shortcomings of physical books. Of course e-books aren’t the only game in town and it’s unlikely they ever will be. Let’s consider the physical book market that, I believe, will always exist as a niche (some people prefer physical books just as some people prefer typewriters).

Technological progress has caused a great deal of trouble for local stores that have failed to evolve. Local stores are no longer competing solely with other local stores. Today everybody is competing with the entire world thanks to the Internet. The biggest competitor to local bookstores is are online bookstores such as Amazon. For those times I find myself buying physical books (usually because the e-book version is either nonexistent or more expensive than the physical version) I go to Amazon. Amazon offers a far better shopping experience than any local bookstore I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to a lot of them). Many of the titles I read are relatively unknown outside of certain circles. These are books that most bookstores rarely stock. The reason large book sellers like Barnes and Nobel became so popular, and coincidentally put many independent bookstores out of business, is because they stocked a huge number of books. Stores like Barnes and Nobel were a market evolution that people like myself, who were often looking for oddball literature, greatly enjoyed. Now Amazon is the new market evolution that stocks even more books than Barnes and Nobel and saves me the trouble of driving to a store.

I was recently looking for some titles on the history of the Middle East. Since most Americans care little for history outside of events that have occurred in America or Europe finding titles on the history of the Middle East at local bookstores is an exercise in futility. My options were to order the book at a local bookstore or order it on Amazon. Had I chosen the former option I’d have had to drive to the local bookstore, find a staffer, tell them what I wanted, wait for them to find it and order it, drive home, wait for the book to arrive (which could take days or weeks), drive back to the local bookstore, and pay for the book plus any local taxes. I chose the latter which only involved me finding the book on Amazon, selecting a seller (I was buying a used copy because it was dirt cheap), and paying for the book (a whopping $0.01) plus shipping (a whopping $3.99 since it wasn’t fulfilled by Amazon and therefore ineligible for free Prime shipping). Shopping on Amazon took me far less time, didn’t require any gas (that’s worth a few greeny points), and allowed me to pass on paying taxes. It was win-win. This is what local bookstores have to compete against and they generally do a very poor job of it.

I mentioned that specialty bookstores can still offer a good experience. This is because specialty bookstores stand to fill niches in the market that generally go unfulfilled by larger market actors. Mayday Books is one such specialty bookstore that caters to people who generally lean towards the socialist side of the political spectrum. Most large bookstores aren’t going to carry a great deal of socialist literature nor will their staff have much knowledge about socialist literature. A store like Mayday Books stands to offer socialist literature that is hard to find elsewhere and the knowledge of staffers that know a great deal about socialism and socialist literature. On top of that the consumers Mayday Books caters to are more apt to buy from a store like Mayday. Mayday not only specializes in socialist literature it also proudly doesn’t make a profit. Although the staff of Mayday may not want to hear it their store is a perfect example of market specialization.

The shop local movement fails to address the fact that markets are constantly evolving. Because of the Internet the entire world is now local. In fact online stores like Amazon are closer to me than any so-called local store. Amazon literally exists in my living room and on my phone. I don’t even need to put on pants to shop at Amazon (that’s convenience)! Instead of telling people to shop local members of the shop local movement should be telling local businesses to evolve. Tell local business to setup a website for customers all around the world to shop on. Point them towards an unfulfilled niche in their market so they can fill it. Encourage them to innovate. Stop telling consumers to inconvenience themselves for the sake of local businesses. Businesses are supposed to serve consumers and therefore should be expected to improve their goods and services to better meet consumer demands.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 30th, 2012 at 11:30 am

We’re Already Over the Fiscal Cliff

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The current story arc of Politics: The Reality Television Show for Suckers deals with the so-called fiscal cliff. Republicans and Democrats are trying to rally support for the causes of spending cuts and tax increases respectively. Anybody who has watched Politics for any length of time knows that these arguments are illusionary and that the Republicans and Democrats are working together to soak the people for more tax money without truly entertaining any idea of spending cuts:

Mr Obama meets business leaders at the White House on Tuesday and members of middle-class families on Wednesday.

He wants Republicans to accept tax increases on the wealthy, while extending tax cuts for families earning $250,000 (£155,000) or less.

[…]

John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, has said he would consider increasing tax revenue by closing loopholes, though he remains opposed to raising taxes.

“Closing loopholes” is merely a fancy term for curtailing freedoms and, ultimately, an insidious way to increase taxes without technically increasing taxes. Effectively John Boehner has stated a willingness to cooperate with Obama but is using language that perpetuates the myth that the Republicans and Democrats oppose one another.

This is nothing new. What is worth discussing though is the idea of the fiscal cliff. The fiscal cliff, like the Republican-Democrat opposition, is a mirage created by the state. When politicians discuss the fiscal cliff they are actually talking about measures placed in the Budget Control Act of 2011 taking effect, which include supposed spending cuts and tax increases. The Budget Control Act, like the fiscal cliff, is also a mirage created by the state. It was supposed to be a compromise between the Republicans and Democrats to resolve budgetary issues facing the federal government. These budgetary issues can be boiled down to the fact the federal government spends far more than it bring in. Put into actual terms the federal government is insolvent.

Insolvency is the real issue facing the federal government and it won’t go away even with the most audacious tax increases. America has two options before it. Either spending must be slashed or the debt must be repudiated… again:

Although largely forgotten by historians and by the public, repudiation of public debt is a solid part of the American tradition. The first wave of repudiation of state debt came during the 1840s, after the panics of 1837 and 1839. Those panics were the consequence of a massive inflationary boom fueled by the Whig-run Second Bank of the United States. Riding the wave of inflationary credit, numerous state governments, largely those run by the Whigs, floated an enormous amount of debt, most of which went into wasteful public works (euphemistically called “internal improvements”), and into the creation of inflationary banks. Outstanding public debt by state governments rose from $26 million to $170 million during the decade of the 1830s. Most of these securities were financed by British and Dutch investors.

During the deflationary 1840s succeeding the panics, state governments faced repayment of their debt in dollars that were now more valuable than the ones they had borrowed. Many states, now largely in Democratic hands, met the crisis by repudiating these debts, either totally or partially by scaling down the amount in “readjustments.” Specifically, of the 28 American states in the 1840s, 9 were in the glorious position of having no public debt, and 1 (Missouri’s) was negligible; of the 18 remaining, 9 paid the interest on their public debt without interruption, while another 9 (Maryland, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida) repudiated part or all of their liabilities. Of these states, four defaulted for several years in their interest payments, whereas the other five (Michigan, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Florida) totally and permanently repudiated their entire outstanding public debt. As in every debt repudiation, the result was to lift a great burden from the backs of the taxpayers in the defaulting and repudiating states.

[…]

The next great wave of state debt repudiation came in the South after the blight of Northern occupation and Reconstruction had been lifted from them. Eight Southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia) proceeded, during the late 1870s and early 1880s under Democratic regimes, to repudiate the debt foisted upon their taxpayers by the corrupt and wasteful carpetbag Radical Republican governments under Reconstruction.

State debt has been repudiated in the United States before and it can be done again. Many people will claim that repudiating the debt would lead to catastrophe but that wasn’t the outcome of the above mentioned cases:

Rothbard’s History demonstrates how the repudiations of the 1830s and ’40s did not cause the sky to fall. In fact, the return to sound money coupled with a liberalization of the economy spurred a tremendous amount of growth. Rothbard explains:

It is evident, then, that the 1839–1843 [monetary] contraction was healthful for the economy in liquidating unsound investments, debts, and banks, including the pernicious Bank of the United States. But didn’t the massive deflation have catastrophic effects — on production, trade, and employment, as we have been led to believe? In a fascinating analysis and comparison with the deflation of 1929–1933 a century later, Professor Temin shows that the percentage of deflation over the comparable four years (1839–1843 and 1929–1933) was almost the same. Yet the effects on real production of the two deflations were very different. Whereas in 1929–1933, real gross investment fell catastrophically by 91 percent, real consumption by 19 percent, and real GNP by 30 percent; in 1839–1843, investment fell by 23 percent, but real consumption increased by 21 percent and real GNP by 16 percent. (p. 103)

Repudiating the debt had the opposite effect that most people would lead to you believe, it actually caused economic boon instead of of bust. Iceland, which recently repudiated its debt, is now experiencing economic growth as well.

It’s obvious that the federal government isn’t going to cut spending and it can’t tax its way out of the fiscal hole it has dug, which means the only other option is bankruptcy.

Amazon Prime is a Great Deal

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I subscribe to Amazon Prime because it ends up being cheaper overall than paying shipping on the individual orders I make throughout the year. What I didn’t realize is how good of a deal Prime really is:

While sending off something as a light as an 0.8-ounce pack of feathers doesn’t cost the company much, analysts say Amazon may lose hundreds of dollars covering the cost of lugging around heftier items, such as 149-pound sofabeds or 300-pound treadmills. Shoppers, on the other hand, can more than make up for that $79 Amazon Prime enrollment fee with a single purchase.

[…]

So what’s the heaviest item Amazon will ship for free? The company declined to say, but the makers of a 1,509-pound safe (shipping weight: 1,672 pounds) claim the prize for biggest bang for one’s 79 bucks. See Cannon Safe CO54 Commander Series Premium 90 Minute Fire Safe

$79.00 to ship a 1,672 pound safe is quite the deal:

“We charge customers around $700 to ship this safe, but when they buy it through Amazon they get it shipped for free,” says Pasquale Murena, marketing manager for Cannon Safe. “As a result, we get orders through Amazon every day.” In fact, Amazon will pick up the tab for shipping the safe even for non-Prime members, if they are willing to wait a few extra days for delivery. Like many items priced over $25, it qualifies for “Super Saver Shipping,” which usually take five to eight days to arrive.

If you’re in the market for a Canon gun safe you can’t go wrong with an Amazon Prime subscription apparently.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 30th, 2012 at 10:30 am

The Feel Good Legislation of the Year

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Denizens of the Internet are cheering Darrell Issa’s latest piece of legislation title the Internet American Moratorium Act (IAMA). The legislation purports to put a two year moratorium on Congress passing new laws that affect the Internet. Considering the recent number of government attempts to put restrictions on the Internet this bill seems like a no-brainer. Unfortunately this bill is nothing more than feel good legislation meant to build support for Issa without actually offering anything.

On Facebook Classical Liberal pointed out that the legislation is meaningless because of the simple fact Congress can repeal any law it passes. If the IAMA passed and Congress wanted to pass a law affecting the Internet they would merely have to repeal it then pass their desired legislation. It could be done in one bill.

I then noted the lack of any punishment stated if Congress violated this legislation. What if the (IAMA) passed and Congress passed legislation that violated the moratorium? Apparently nothing at all. Without some form of punishment a law really is toothless.

As far as I can see there is no point to the IAMA other than to make supporters of leaving the Internet free feel good.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 30th, 2012 at 10:00 am

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More Lies From Minnesota Gun Control Advocates

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Since Mark Dayton vetoed the omnibus self-defense bill earlier this year you would think gun control advocates in Minnesota could stop lying about it. Sadly they have not. In fact a recent story, according to current reports, involving a man who shot two home invaders, dragged their bodies into his workshop, and shot the sole survivor in manner befitting of an executioner has fired this state’s gun control advocates up again:

It probably doesn’t seem that the Thanksgiving Day killings of two teens in Little Falls, Minnesota, shot by a deranged but heavily armed home owner, could be any more horrible. But consider this possibility: If a gun law passed early this year by the Minnesota Legislature had not been vetoed by DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, the Little Falls killer would not be in jail.

Incredible, I know. But the “Stand Your Ground” bill — written by the National Rifle association, pushed by the Republican legislative majority and supported by many outstate DFLers — would probably mean that the 64-year-old man who shot the two teens in his basement, then left them there overnight because he didn’t want to disturb the cops on a national holiday, would be nearly immune to arrest or interrogation about the blood-curdling woundings-cum-executions he performed in his home.

[…]

One horrifying part of his story, as told to the authorities, led to murder charges: His clueless bragging about deliberately killing each of the teens, one by one, after they had been wounded. “The law doesn’t permit you to execute somebody after the threat is gone,” said the Morrison County Sheriff.
But it would have. If Dayton hadn’t vetoed the bill that was passed last spring.

Current state law allows a homeowner who fears for his life to use lethal force to defend himself. But it is up to a judge to determine whether that fear was “reasonable” or not. The bill passed last spring would have bypassed the judge and taken the shooter’s word as Gospel: “I was fearful, so I killed ‘em” would have been good enough.

In order to understand the legislation one has to actually read it, specifically the section that deals with what is commonly referred to as castle doctrine:

Subd. 2. Circumstances when authorized. (a) The use of deadly force by an individual is justified under this section when the act is undertaken:

(1) to resist or prevent the commission of a felony in the individual’s dwelling;

(2) to resist or prevent what the individual reasonably believes is an offense or attempted offense that imminently exposes the individual or another person to substantial bodily harm, great bodily harm, or death; or

(3) to resist or prevent what the individual reasonably believes is the commission or imminent commission of a forcible felony.

(b) The use of deadly force is not authorized under this section if the individual knows that the person against whom force is being used is a licensed peace officer from this state, another state, the United States, or any subordinate jurisdiction of the United States, who is acting lawfully.

Subd. 3. Degree of force; retreat. An individual taking defensive action pursuant to subdivision 2 may use all force and means, including deadly force, that the individual in good faith believes is required to succeed in defense. The individual may meet force with superior force when the individual’s objective is defensive; the individual is not required to retreat; and the individual may continue defensive actions against an assailant until the danger has ended.

Emphasis mine. Setting aside the fact that castle doctrine already had some judicial precedence in Minnesota the legislation in question very specifically stated that an individual could continue to use all force he or she believed in good faith to be necessary until the danger had ended.

The information being reported so far indicates that the surviving burglar was incapacitated when David Smith, the homeowner, placed a handgun under her chin and fired the rounds the ultimately killed her. Under the vetoed legislation this action would have been illegal as the threat had ceased when the burglars were incapacitated and therefore no longer a danger.

Another statement made in the article I find interesting is the following:

More than that, the law put handcuffs on the cops, requiring them to presume the shooter was innocent and prohibiting them from making an arrest unless — and only if — they found probable cause after an investigation. If that law had taken effect Aug. 1, as it would have without the veto, the Little Falls shooter would not have been taken into custody, would not have been interrogated and might well still be sitting in his house, cradling his Mini 14 in his lap while Minnesotans scratched their heads. True, a forensic investigation would eventually have produced evidence that the teenage victims had been shot multiple times, and at close range while lying on the basement floor. But there is no telling what would or wouldn’t have happened after that. If Byron David Smith was still puttering around the house, keeping his mouth shut, he might never have been arrested.

Emphasis mine. Before I continue I believe it’s important to look at the relevant subsection in the legislation under question:

Subd. 5. Criminal investigation; immunity from prosecution. (a) An individual who uses force, including deadly force, according to this section or as otherwise provided by law in defense of the individual, the individual’s dwelling, or another individual is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution for that act.

(b) A law enforcement agency may arrest an individual using force under circumstances described in this section only after considering any claims or circumstances supporting self-defense or lawful defense of another individual.

Subd. 6. Justifiable use of force; burden of proof. In a criminal trial, when there is any evidence of justifiable use of force under this section or section 609.06, the state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s actions were not justifiable.

An individual using force to defend their dwelling would only have been immune from criminal prosecution if their act fell under the castle doctrine section of the legislation. According to the Star Tribune story Smith admitted to police that he took actions that would not have been covered under the castle doctrine section of the legislation:

According to the complaint, Smith told police that he heard someone breaking into his house at noon on Thanksgiving. He showed police the window he says Brady and his cousin, Kifer, used to enter his house, which he said had been broken into several times before. Lange, his friend, said he kept his valuables downstairs.

Smith told police he armed himself with a rifle and a handgun and waited downstairs until he saw the first person’s feet, then legs, then hips.

He said he fired and the first victim, Brady, tumbled down the stairs. While Brady looked up at him, he shot him in the face, according to the complaint.

“I want him dead,” he told investigators.

He put Brady’s body on a tarp and dragged him into his basement workshop and sat back down in his chair.

Several minutes later, he heard more footsteps and saw Kifer coming down the stairs. He waited until he saw her hips, then fired. She also fell down the stairs, but then his rifle jammed and Kifer laughed.

That angered Smith. “If you’re trying to shoot someone and they laugh at you, you go again,” he told police.

He then pulled out the .22-caliber, nine-shot revolver that he was wearing, and fired “more shots than I needed to.” He dragged Kifer into the workshop, placed her next to Brady and noticed she was still gasping for air.

“Smith stated at this point he placed the handgun under the woman’s chin and shot her … up into the cranium … a good clean finishing shot.”

Smith admitted to firing more shots than he needed to and placing the handgun under the surviving burglar’s chin and delivering the killing blow… after he had dragged her into his workshop. Consider what Smith admitted to for a moment. He told police that he fired more shots than necessary, indicating he continued firing even after the target was no longer a perceived threat. Then he admitted to dragging the injured person into his workshop, indicating that he felt the target was incapacitated enough to handle and move. Finally he admitted to killed the surviving burglar after deeming her safe enough to handle and move. He admitted that he used more force than in good faith believed was necessary and continued using force even after the danger was gone. I believe it’s a stretch, to say the least, to imply Smith would have avoided arrest if HR 1467 hadn’t been vetoed by Dayton.

Now for the final nail in the coffin, the fact that Smith apparently wasn’t the one to call the police:

Sheriff Michel Wetzel said Monday that he believes the teenagers were committing a burglary but said Smith’s reaction went beyond legal protections of Minnesota law that allows crime victims to use reasonable force to protect themselves and their property during a felony.

[…]

And the law requires people to notify police, said Wetzel, who learned about the shooting from a neighbor the next day.

[…]

He asked a neighbor the next morning if he knew any lawyers, and that neighbor apparently called police.

HR 1467 made no exception to the requirement that individuals involved in defensive cases must contact police. Smith’s failure to contact police after the situation was over would probably be enough cause for his immediate arrest.

If there are any gun control advocates reading this post please let it be a lesson to always read any legislation you plan on using to make an argument for your cause.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 29th, 2012 at 11:30 am

It’s Like Stalin Never Left Russia

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Most people are probably familiar with the Pussy Riot case in Russia. An all female band named Pussy Riot did a gig at a Moscow cathedral that didn’t sit well with the current Russian rulers. After what was likely a sham trial the members of Pussy Riot were found guilty of hooliganism and one of the members was sentenced to two years in a remote Siberian prison. Sentencing dissidents to Siberian prisons was a tactic often used by Joseph Stalin but the similarities between his regime and the current regime haven’t stopped there. Now the current Russian government is moving to erase all memory of Pussy Riot by blocking any website that posts the video of their act at the cathedral:

A Moscow court has ruled that websites must remove video clips of the Pussy Riot female punk band, two of whose members are in jail.

The clips include a crude anti-Kremlin song which they performed in Moscow’s main cathedral in February, for which they were convicted.

The “punk prayer” has been viewed nearly 2.4m times on YouTube.

In its ruling, the court called the clips “extremist”. Websites that fail to remove the clips may be blocked.

I wonder if the next step will be to find and remove all photographs that picture any Pussy Riot members.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 29th, 2012 at 11:00 am

If a Story Doesn’t Fulfill Your Agenda Editorialize

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Advocates of gun control spend time searching high and low for news stories that support their agenda. Unfortunately for them such stories are far and few between so they often have to resort to editorializing in order to shoehorn their agenda into an otherwise unrelated store. Take the recent shooting in Florida that AlterNet was so good to report on. Things are off to a bad start from the beginning:

Michael David Dunn, 45, was in Jacksonville, Fla., this Friday for his son’s wedding, when afterward he decided to stop at a convenience store with his girlfriend. Four unarmed teenagers were in an SUV near where Dunn parked. After Dunn’s girlfriend went into the store to buy a bottle of wine, Dunn made a comment to the teenagers about their music being too loud. An argument ensued, and then Dunn, a gun collector, pulled out his gun and fired at the SUV between eight to nine times. Two shots hit and killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

Emphasis mine. No evidence is given that indicates Dunn was a gun collector. He may be a gun collector or he may not be, either way the statement is not backed by any presented evidence and it has nothing to do with the story itself. Whether somebody collects guns or not has no bearing on whether or not a claim of self-defense is legitimate or not. Owning multiple firearms does not suddenly make a self-defense claim legitimate or illegitimate.

The real editorializing doesn’t come into play until the last few paragraphs though:

Davis’s death comes about a week after a Florida task force found that the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law is mostly fine as is and recommended only small changes. Florida governor Rick Scott created the task force after the death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in April. The task force made their conclusions despite research that shows “Stand Your Ground” laws actually increase homicides.

Where should I begin? The author managed to slip to Trayvon Martin case into the story. In fact the author not only slipped the name in but also slipped in the implication that Trayvon was unjustly gunned down even though evidence supports Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense. That’s some great emotional heartstring pulling right there.

Let’s consider the second implication that the stand your ground law will allow Dunn to get off. Florida’s stand your ground law states:

776.012 Use of force in defense of person.—

A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or

(2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.

The legislation clearly states that one must have a reasonable belief that deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm. If the story is accurate Dunn claims to have shot the teenager because he was listening to music that was too loud. It’s pretty unreasonable to believe loud music will cause imminent death or great bodily harm especially consider the fact that the teenagers were in the vehicle and neither dead or suffering great bodily harm.

Finally the story implies that stand your ground laws cause higher homicide rates. This claim confuses me because homicide is a criminal charge. If homicide conviction rates actually increased after the passage of stand your ground laws it would imply that more people were being successfully convicted of homicide which invalidates the claim that stand your ground laws allow people to get away with homicide. Which is it? Do stand your ground laws lead to higher conviction rates of homicide or do such laws allow people to easily get away with murder? Inconsistency from gun control advocates is par for the course.

Once again gun control advocates opt for dancing in the blood by editorializing a story so heavily that the actual story, a shooting supposedly being justified because somebody was playing their music too loud, is almost entirely lost.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 29th, 2012 at 10:30 am

It was Bound to Happen

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New York and California have demonstrated what happens when governments try to soak the wealthy for more taxes, the wealthy leave. Before Britain’s last general election the country’s government raised the top tax bracket to 50 percent. Needless to say the things went exactly as expected:

In the 2009-10 tax year, more than 16,000 people declared an annual income of more than £1 million to HM Revenue and Customs.

This number fell to just 6,000 after Gordon Brown introduced the new 50p top rate of income tax shortly before the last general election.

One of the reasons taxing the wealthy to makeup for government shortfalls doesn’t work is because the wealthy have the means to leave. What motivation does a person making $1,000,000 have to stay in a country if they are being forced to give $500,000 of it to the government?

Of course this only applies to declared income. As we agorists know the state can’t tax what it doesn’t know about.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 29th, 2012 at 10:00 am

Discriminating Based on Preexisting Conditions

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Advocates of the Affordable Healthcare Act like to tout that the legislation prevents insurance companies from discriminating based on preexisting conditions. Those advocates better get busy because if they don’t believe discriminating based on preexisting conditions for insurance companies is right they’re going to have a field day with this story:

A California boy has been ordered to transfer to another middle school because he carries the gene for cystic fibrosis, even though he doesn’t actually have the incurable, life-threatening and non-infectious disease. His parents have gone to court to fight the move.

Their son, 11-year-old Colman Chadam, was told last week that he’d have to transfer from Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto, Calif., to a school three miles away because he posed a risk to another student at school who does have the disease, according to TODAY.

[…]

While it is not contagious, doctors say people with cystic fibrosis can pose a danger to each other through bacterial cross-contamination if they are in close contact.

Nobody should be surprised that the state is discriminating based on genetics. This country has a long history of discriminating against individuals based on genetics. From the genocide of the American Indians to the “separate by equal” public facilities for African Americans the United States government and the governments of the individual states have demonstrated a love for genetics based discrimination.

Here’s the real kicker: is it justified to remove a child from a school if he or she has a preexisting genetic condition? If so why it is justified for public schools but not insurance companies? If not how come (considering the school’s decision was backed by a doctor)?

Written by Christopher Burg

November 28th, 2012 at 11:30 am

Why Nobody Likes the Republican Party

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Let’s face it, nobody likes the Republican Party. Even advocates in the Republican Party seems to be dissatisfied with their party as demonstrated by the fact that less people showed up to the polls this year than in 2008. There’s a reason for this. First of all the Republican Party seems to have a big problem with their endorsed candidates publicly saying incredibly offensive statements. If that wasn’t enough now several House Republicans are asking the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to demand Twitter begin censoring content:

Seven House Republicans asked the FBI in September to demand that Twitter take down the accounts of U.S.-designated terrorist groups, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Somalia’s al Shabaab. The letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller was spearheaded by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), who said Wednesday that the recent events vindicated the request.

“Allowing foreign terrorist organizations like Hamas to operate on Twitter is enabling the enemy,” Poe said in an e-mailed statement to The Hill. “Failure to block access arms them with the ability to freely spread their violent propaganda and mobilize in their War on Israel.

Apparently the Republican Party has no interest in even feigning support for free speech anymore and are sicking their dogs on companies that allow individuals to express their beliefs and ideas. How can anybody be surprised the Republican Party has failed to perform in recent elections? Members of that party seem to be working overtime to make sure everybody hates them.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 28th, 2012 at 11:00 am